Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Assault in Forgotten Alley from the Scotch and Herring Mystery Series, by David Kaumann Added to Personal Favorites for 2015!

McCallum squatted catcher-style next to the victim. The kid was fifteen at most. Black.
Why was a teenage Negro assaulted in a forgotten alley in a neighborhood mostly Jewish? McCallum could think of three reasons, none of them good.
He looked at the kid more closely. Not much he could do before the ambulance came, but even a guess at the injuries and a survey of the victim might help.
The face was beautiful. The kind girls swooned over. And guys wanted to punch out.
As perfect as the face was, the rest of him looked a mess. The kid was huddled over, moaning , clutching his rib cage. His jeans were torn at the calf, and blood drops were crystallizing on the exposed skin. The kid struggled to pull away, the fabric ripped. Might have been a school insignia, one of those achievement patches. The stitching threads, taut in the frigid air, reminded McCallum of the brown-red strings trailing after a picked-too-early scab...
"He was beaten pretty bad. Whoever did it knew what he was doing..."
McCallum touched the boy's shoulder--lightly. The kid moaned, curled tighter, shivered. He winced as he breathed...
McCallum looked at the kid again, shivering and wincing and too out of it to even moan now. He took off his overcoat and laid it around the kid like a blanket...
"One thing I don't get." O'Malley said, "Why'd he leave the kid's face alone?"
"Too pretty to bust up," he offered.
~~~

Assault in Forgotten Alley

By David Y. B. Kaufmann

How do you decide that an author will be a favorite by his first novel? For me, it's easy...the writing itself is great, but, more importantly, the story line and characters blend together into a perfect combination of topics that interest me and are presented in a time period that brings back memories and also exhibits the character development that reveals a like-minded attitude of the writer.

I think the most intriguing part of Kaufmann's stories is that, along with a very complex mystery to solve, there is also glimpses of some traumatic event(s) that has occurred, but is only provided by tantalizing teases referring to, normally, James' feelings.



Silence, then a whispering in the statis--the skritch of a needle. The DJ changing the record, not realizing he should also be talking to his audience.
McCallum opened a drawer and fished among the pens, paper clips, pieces of paper, and other odds and ends until he found a pack of cigarettes. He widened the top and counted. Ten left, shoved the pack--crinkling cellophane and all--under some unopened envelopes, pulled out the box of kitchen matches, and struck one
The skritch turned into notes. A solo piano. Familiar. He stood, listening a moment too long, and had to shake out the match quickly. Chopin. The Fantaisie Impromptu? It had been a long time since he'd listened to it.
A long time.
He twisted the radio's knob to off, so hard the radio slid iinto the toaster. He crushed the cigarette and threw the strands into the sink.
It wasn't his fault. He knew that. Drew had even said as much. More than once.  Drew comforting him, when it should have been the other way around. As they stood over Lou Aldala's bullet-ridden, bleeding body. Again at the funeral. And when McCallum had come to pay a condolence call--when others had wanted to turn him away, Drew had insisted he be allowed in.
He could not have known. But he still felt guilty.
And he still had promises to keep. Actually, it was in effect the same promise, to two fathers--one dead, the other in exile.
~~~

The main character, Detective James McCallum, is Scottish and calmly speaks of his personal opinions to others, letting them know they are wrong about what they are saying or doing, but not necessarily in a critical manner. Readers can respect him, admire him, and enjoy getting to know him. Especially in relation to his best friend, Drew Aldala... Please check out yesterday's review of the introductory novella, Rampage on Rogers Avenue to learn more.

"Not sure what it has to do with your case, but
I'm an honest guy. We listen to their music,
they play ball like nobody's business, they
bleed red--didn't Shakespeare write about that?"
"About a Jew."
"As long as they work hard, mind their busiiness
follow the law. Live and let live."
McCallum nodded again. The victim's Negro.
Found in an alley over by Ford and Crown."
Tooney whistled low. "You think it might be
racial?"
McCallum shrugged. "I don't know what to
think."
"Don't tell that to Trosero. He already has
doubts. 'What kind of detective doesn't know
what to think?' he'd say...
~~~
McCallum was able to make a connection with the injured boy, Trevor. He stuttered and didn't talk much because of that, but James was able to win him over and at least discover his identity. 

There had been very little evidence in the Alley...a trumpet mouthpiece,  a broken record and a string that had been wound round Trevor's fingers, protected as if it was very important to him... But why? what could a string be used for that was so important?

Finding enough pieces of the record, they were able to consider that it might be Tucker Wilson, who played jazz in Harlem. But as they continued the investigation they found that Tucker was scheduled to play in a nearby club and that Trevor was going to be given a guest slot. Now that would be impossible...

Trevor had been only one of a group of students who were receiving private lessons on various instruments. But Trevor was undoubtedly the most skilled. Could his attack be personal, out of envy or hatred?

In this second novel, we meet Stacey, a close friend of James. Actually, the instigation for the four to meet came from Drew's wife, so James hoped that agreeing would help further the relationship that was developing as James once again began to closely interact with Drew.

No matter at what stage of the case from James' standpoint, Drew will force a recapitulation of all that has transferred thus far. For readers, we quickly learn about the case, the clues and the individuals involved...But it is only when Drew has mulled it over and has then arrived at acceptable options will he share with James! It's kinda fun to see James' frustration and yet, the amazing conclusions from Drew always fits all the pieces together!


Aldala smiled. I think 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' would be appropriate."


Stacey, with an encouraging  pat from Faigy, stood and walked, a bit nervous, across the stage. She sat at the piano--an old upright--and pushed back the cover...Stacey played the first few notes of "Fly Me to the Moon." After a quick glance at McCallum, she checked with Tucker Wilson, who circled with his finger, motioning for her to continue.
She started softly, but those nearly shushed each other and the hushing spread.
After a few bars, Tucker Wilson stood and started playing accompaniment, encouraging Stacey to improvise. She finished the song and started to rise, but Tucker Wilson motioned her back as he played the first notes of "Misty."
Stacey got up, curtseyed, and sashayed back, accompanied by some whistles and more applause.
She rejoined them, grinning broadly.
"Aye, and the Cheshire Cat's a wee jealous," McCallum said.
She returned Faigy's embrace with a big hug.
"My mother would be so mortified," she drawled the smile turning wicked..."
~~~

With Leroy's arrangement to play for Tucker Wilson, James and Drew decided to take their lady loves out to hear him and hopefully talk to him about Leroy, seeing whether he knew any possible reason for him being attacked. While there, Drew watched as drugs were sold nearby in a corner...and naturally drug dealings became a prominent issue for their investigation...

But no matter all the different options that were being discovered, there was still one question that haunted all those involved... Why was that alley called "Forgotten Alley and who had put up a sign with that name?

I loved it! The book is mostly character driven with some really well-defined individuals that readers will get to know very slowly, by the looks of it! This book, as well as the first, had mysteries which proved to be complex enough that readers will probably have to wait until the ending to know what has really happened... As least I did and you know that's the kind of mysteries I most enjoy! Hopefully, this posting will give you enough to consider whether you are interested in reading the book... My advice is Yes! Do check it out further!


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David Kaufmann has a PhD in English and has taught several courses in Literature, Composition, and Jewish Studies. In addition to his fiction, he has written numerous essays, articles, and poems. He has also edited a wide variety of material from medical texts to chess books, and much in between. He writes a weekly blog, which can be accessed at davidybkaufmann.com. Assault in Forgotten Alley is the first novel-length Scotch & Herring Mystery. He previously published Rampage on Rogers Avenue, which introduces the series. He is also the author of The Silent Witness, a young adult book set in pre-Katrina New Orleans, and Trees & Forest: A Mystery, a post-Katrina mystery set around Tulane University. David Kaufmann and his wife have seven children. They live in New Orleans.


By the Way, I've joined the Fan Club at the author's
web site and
immediately received a short story, 
which I'll tell you about sometime in the future!